Why you shouldn’t hire a PR agency

Whilst I believe any business in any industry can benefit from media coverage, investing in a good PR agency is expensive. And actually requires work from you as a client. It certainly isn’t the answer for every company.

If any of the below sound familiar, hiring a PR agency, freelancer or publicist may not be the right fit for you…

1. You don’t want to do any of the work

The main challenge I have seen with clients over the years is not willing to be a part of the PR activity. You can’t hire a PR agency and then say “ok, good luck, call us when you get something”. You have to be available to brief your PR team and answer us FAST when we need something for a journalist.

Your company won’t magically appear in the press if your PR agency doesn’t know much about you, the inner workings of the business, or you never respond to them with the items they requested.

For instance, if you’re a tech company, your PR agency won’t be able to create quotes for the media because they don’t know the mechanics or science behind your products. You need to be around for them to get these quotes and answer the tech-y questions for them.

2. You want PR to save your business

I can’t tell you how many enquiries have come to me when they are on the brink of collapse or have hardly any money in the account – but they believe I can help them.

PR is amazing. I’ve built my entire life and business around it. But it isn’t going to save your business overnight. Media outreach needs to be done in the right frame of mind and not a “we’re in the pooper, we need PR NOW!” That mindset will never result in epic results. And also puts immense pressure on your PR agency to get quick results – which aren’t always the best.

If you engage a PR agency, you have to be in it for the long haul and not rely on overnight success and for it to instantly save your business.

3. You have absolutely nothing to say

With the best will in the world and the best PR agency, no one can flog a metaphorical dead horse. There has to be something or someone that the media want to write about.

Whilst it is the PR teams job to come up with new ideas, they still need something to work from. If you aren’t creating content or anything out of the ordinary then, even with PR help, journalists won’t print you.

4. You want to see results tomorrow

The first 3 months are crucial in a new agency relationship. A lot of planning and strategic thinking goes into planning out campaigns and getting to know your company.

PR teams will often be pitching to media organisations that won’t print you instantly. A magazine may say yes today but not publish your feature for another 6 months.

PR takes time. Like marketing activities, there are PR tactics that can see short term wins but these are the exception not the rule. Unless you have a story that is so drool-worthy and the entire nation needs to hear it, you’re probably going to have to be patient while your PR sets out their plan of action.

5. You hire a PR agency purely for who they know, not their ideas

Even a PR person with decades of experience and a Rolodex of contacts that would make Hollywood jealous, they still need time to have a newsworthy story about you. Just having contacts does not automatically mean you’re going to make the front pages. If you have no story, it doesn’t matter whom your PR agency knows, they won’t land any media coverage.

6. You think 1 newspaper mention should turn into 100 immediate sales

Appearing in the media won’t instantly result in a bunch of sales. (Sorry to pee on your potatoes there if you hoped it would!)

PR is the long game and all part of building your brand credibility and awareness. This goes back to the earlier point on being available for your PR firm. Once you appear somewhere in the media, a good PR person will guide you on how to leverage the PR opportunity. For instance, if your story hits certain websites, your PR agency would guide you on how to share this across social media, your newsletter, your website etc and how to get even more people to see it.

A PR agency’s job is to land epic media coverage. They are not in charge of your sales department. If your media coverage gets people to your website but the site is poor and doesn’t give the user what they want then, yes, you may then lose a sale.

7. You probably won’t implement anything your PR agency asks you to

I’ve had many clients in the past not do any of the things I advised and then wonder why the sales didn’t come in or why a campaign “wasn’t as successful as they hoped”.

Before hiring a person or agency to manage your PR you have to be committed fully internally and work with them to create an epic campaign.

How to be quoted in the media as an expert

Featuring in the media as an incredible way to boost your credibility. An amazing way to start appearing in the press (and actually one of the easiest PR strategies) is to provide an ‘expert comment’ and jump in on a story the media is already writing about.

First of all, ‘experts’ are coined this by those that follow them or read or watch them speak. It isn’t a title that you need to give yourself and I actually wouldn’t necessarily recommend it either. Other people make the decision that you have some expertise and will see you as an expert after seeing you speak, reading your book or reading your opinion on something.

Your dream clients may see you on the tele box and think “Wow this is someone I need to listen to”.

And even if they don’t see your media opportunity immediately when it’s published, a media strip of well-known logos in an ‘As Seen In’ image is always going to make an impact on those landing on your website.

You may also like to read: How to be invited on TV as an industry expert’.

I get asked a lot about how to get an expert comment mentioned in the media so here’s how to easily make it happen for you or your colleagues…

1. Focus on 1-3 topics 

Brainstorm the topics or campaigns you can (or want to) talk about. To keep things simple, whittle the list down to your favourite 1-3 key topics.  That could be ones you want to be known for or those that you know your ideal customers or audience would be keen to hear about.

Having a focus for your PR efforts will enable you to stay on track with your messages and so you aren’t trying to manage 15 messy campaigns at once. Less is more after all.

2. Do your homework

Start researching media, producers and journalists that work for the media organisations you want to appear in. Get their email address and keep it in a safe spot for later. Try not to add random people to your list, it’s about quality over quantity and 20 journalists that currently write about your specialist subjects and could be inetrested in your story is WAY more valuable than 500 random names to blast irrelevant news to.

3. Set a goal and make a plan

Keep yourself accountable with a plan of action and a few goals. My grandad always taught me to make a plan and work backwards. So start with the big goal then break it down into smaller goals in a timeline.

So if you know you need to get some media wins in soon, state an amount and set a date by it. Then pencil in time in your diary to take action and make it happen.

4. Proactive vs reactive PR

Consider whether you will be proactive or reactive in your approach. Both have different strategies and activities you would focus on.

Being proactive would include you cold pitching a brand new idea to someone who isn’t expecting it. Reactive would be reacting live to current media stories and jumping in on the conversation with the aim of getting your quote published in a journalists next piece about the story.

Personally I like a good mix and always make notes on both how I’ll react to news stories and who I’ll proactively approach with the ideas.

Kerri L Watt | Rising Tide Media

5. Introduce yourself

When you reach out to journalists, remember to actually give them something to go by. Try to avoid just a “Hi, I’m here if you need me” email. Yawn.

A stranger doesn’t owe you anything and isn’t going to bust their butt to find a place for you in their newspaper if you can’t show them you know who their audience is or given them an example of what you can say or write about. Do the work for them and tell them how you can help them by mentioning potential topics for your expert comment.

SUPER MEGA PR TIP: This is your opportunity to showcase you’ve done your homework and are a good fit for them and their audience – don’t just copy and paste a War and Peace length CV!

6. Check out who else is covering the story

Google certain keywords around your topics of expertise and then click the ‘news’ tab to see what is currently in the media. You can then use this as an opportunity to reach out to the writers of those pieces and offer yourself as an expert to comment should they write any follow-up pieces.

7. Keep a record

Once you’ve started putting together a list of potential media organisations to contact, it’s ideal to pop them into a spreadsheet.

List of all your media contacts with their contact details, the date you contacted them and what you offered them e.g. an expert comment on a particular news story that broke that morning.

Keeping a note of why you reached out is immensely helpful for future reference if you want to contact them again.

TECHY PR TIP: Google Docs and Sheets are great for this because you can pick it up on your phone, laptop, computer, basically anywhere with internet access. If, like me, you work across multiple devices this is amazing to only have it stored on one hard drive.

8. Shout out on social 

Shout out on social media, especially Twitter, that you are available to offer comments on particular topics (or a specific story if the media are talking about it today), add your email address and use any relevant hashtags to the topic.

This  one is great for boosting your credibility with your audience because they’ll start to see you as an authority figure as well as having the bonus of getting in front of journalists.


How to nail your upcoming media interview

Whether immediately or just before you go live, it’s totally natural for the nerves to kick in at any point after confirming a media interview. You worked really hard to secure this media opportunity and it’s easy for that to take your attention rather than the outcome of the interview itself and what it will do for your company.

The main thoughts I see from companies attending my media training days is often…

  • What the heck do I wear?
  • What if I say the wrong thing?
  • What if I look like an idiot?
  • What if I don’t have an answer for their question?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of appearing in the media and worrying about things like what to wear or that you’ll look silly can take over the incredible opportunity. Devouring training tips for a media interview may seem like something for the celebs but, in reality, a quick research sesh on how to conduct yourself or what to focus on is a game changer.

Ideally you want to turn up to your media interview; whether on TV, radio or an informal phone call with a journalist for a piece they are writing; calm, relaxed and ready to put your point across.

I’ve collated 10 top tips for you to prepare for your next media interview.

1. Know your ‘key message’ 

It’s easy to get consumed thinking about what not to say in an interview so a good way to spin this into a more positive light is to focus on what you do want to get across. You can do this by writing down one key message that you want to be mentioned. That could be a certain fact or news that must be shared and potentially is the whole point of why you are having this interview. Each time an interviewer then asks a question, you can look for opportunities to stay on topic and bring your answers back to that key message.

If your interview is over the telephone or via video call, you can write your key message on a post-it note or piece of paper in front of you to keep it front of mind.

2. Take a deep breath

Right before your media interview, take time to clear your mind and breathe deeply.  Turn your phone and any devices off, step away from your computer and just allow yourself to be present with your thoughts.


3. When you get stuck 

When faced with a question you don’t feel appropriate, avoid saying things such as “but that’s not what I’m here to talk about” and “that’s not important, what is important is…”

It is possible to move the conversation along on to a point that you want to make and then communicate your message.

Phrases like “and that brings me on to…” or “it’s the same when…” are great ways to go from addressing a topic but moving back to the points you want to get across (your key message). Even one-word additions to your sentence such as ‘interestingly’ and ‘also’ will help get back on track.


4. Have a few statistics to handRadio Studio

Powerful statistics can be useful to a journalist as they will then have the appropriate evidence to support mentioning your key messages you get across.

Too many statistics will create confusion so 1-2 is often enough. The more figures are thrown at your interviewer, the more chance there is for one of them to be published incorrectly.

5. Believe in yourself

You’ve been chosen for this interview for a reason, the media want to talk to you about your news or to hear your opinion on a topic. Whilst it’s easier said than done when faced with a camera staring at you, but try to be relaxed not be too nervous.

It’s amazing how quickly you will feel comfortable when you’re there with the team looking after you. Believe in what you are saying and your confidence will ensure viewers or readers believe you too.

6. It’s ok if you don’t know the answer

Whatever you are asked, always tell the truth. Whilst you don’t have to divulge everything in your business, anything you do say should be the truth. If you don’t know the answer to a question simply say so or say something along the lines of “you’ll have to talk to our marketing department for that information as I haven’t been involved with that project”.

If asked about a statistic or fact that you are unsure of, or perhaps need a little more time to think on, then a response of “I don’t have that figure in front of me but I’ll dig them out and get back to you” would be ideal. Make sure you then send them when you said you will.

When faced with a question you really don’t want to answer or don’t know the answer to avoid saying the famous “no comment” as this comes across that you refused to answer the question or have something to hide.

7. Take a minute

It is easy to forget a question when your nerves take over as you start to respond. If you need to pause, just stop. It will only take a few seconds for you to gather your thoughts again and give a more powerful response. 

8. Speak clearly

Try not to rush through any of your answers while in a media interview. Journalists may be writing notes as well as any recordings so ensure you speak clearly and slowly enough for them to understand precisely what you have said so their final write up of your interview is written correctly.

TV Interview9. Be aware of leading & hypothetical questions

A leading question is one where you would be asked: “Isn’t it true to say this has become a huge concern for customers and a disaster for your reputation?” It would be easy to use their words here to respond with “I wouldn’t say this is a disaster for us but clearly it has caused problems for our customers”.

Quoting their negative words in your response with ‘disaster’ and ‘huge concern’ as part of your answer will not go in your favour as you accept the issues by including them in response. Instead of repeating their negative words.

In this example, ideally your response would be, “Our safety policies are constantly reviewed and our safety team are currently working hard on.”

It’s also best to not get pulled into hypothetical questions and things that haven’t happened and you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to. Be very careful of these hypothetical questions because your answer could be the journalist’s headline of a news story.

Example of a hypothetical question would be “What if another more people at the hotel contract food poisoning?” or “What if someone was to die from the recent outbreak of food poisoning at your hotel?”

In your response, remember to bring in your key message and phrase your answer with positive wording. For instance, “We pride ourselves on taking health and safety extremely serious. We have investigated the recent incident confirming it as an accident and will continue to regularly review our safety procedures.”

If your interview is in response to a recent incident, you will no doubt be able to anticipate the journalist’s questions and prepare for these in advance too.

10. Now be patient 

It is easy to want to see write up of your interview before it is printed but unless the journalist offers to send it to you then you will have to wait until it is in print or published online.

Keep on the journalist’s good side by gracefully waiting and not pestering them to review your interview. You never know, they could need you for another story or an expert comment in the future, so it’s important to keep them on your side and show how wonderful you are to work with.

The true power of the media right now

As a PR strategist and trainer, I often see the media getting negative comments around all the ‘doom and gloom’ news they share. The scaremongering, the misleading headlines. Just in the last few days I have witnessed immense good news stories and seen the true power of the media right now. The thing is, it’s their job to report on these things but it isn’t all doom and gloom in the newsrooms. They always have and continue to make an incredible impact with people that need their help. Local Democracy Reporter for the Sheffield Star and BBC, Lucy Ashton, shared this incredible post about how one newspaper piece turned things around for local NHS staff.
A simple conversation with a local nurse encouraged Lucy to write a piece on how NHS staff were being fined hundreds of pounds in parking fines. This isn’t ideal in any situation but right now when it’s all hands on deck and NHS staff are working more hours than ever putting their own lives at risk, the fact that there were parking charges is absurd. Once the piece was published in the Sheffield Star newspaper, all the accumulated parking fees were cancelled immediately! Had this not been published in the newspaper or exposed publicly, those parking fees would have kept rising and causing immense stress for NHS staff when their energy is needed elsewhere. Anna Roberts, Senior Commissioning Editor at The Sun newspaper wrote a piece on how eBay sellers began selling baby milk for outrageous prices when a demand for the product was noticed.
Sadly the post was attracted some, shall we say, ‘negative nelly’ opinions on the newspaper itself rather than the story, which is such a shame. Although it absolutely did not take away the powerful message behind the story. The published piece quickly prompted eBay to identify and issue warnings to users and to stop it. It also gained attention from other media outlets so the story continued to grow and gained even more awareness on the issue. Had Anna not written this piece, eBay sellers would have continued to sell this essential item at extortionate prices to parents who really needed to feed their babies.  How amazing are these good news stories?! At the time of writing this article these two examples of how the media is using its influence and powers to help real people were both published within two days of each other. Journalists are working hard to get these good news stories out to us and their voice (and distribution channel!) is hugely important to make a big change when we need it. We need the media. Whether local or national, they expose stories and awareness on events that could go unnoticed.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen any good news stories that have helped your local community recently?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments…

10 publicity tips to get your business in the media

The power of PR and what it can do for a business is incredible. I’ve seen first-hand how it has changed companies and now one of my favourite things in the world is sharing PR tips with company leaders and marketing teams across the world.

Just one strategically placed media mention can do wonders for your business. After our first session together, a client’s product was featured in a national newspaper and they had to restock their warehouse SIX times due to all the orders. All from that one media mention.

Side note, if you’d like me to come and train your team on how to do PR, just click here.

To help you start landing media coverage for your company here are 10 of my favourite PR tips…

1. Get in the media your ideal client consumes

The big names are great to have in your ‘as seen in’ image. There’s no denying it. It boost credibility and gives you, what I like to call, ‘cool points’. BUT it’s also a good idea to be featured in media outlets you know will get you right in front of your ideal clients.

2. Find the decision maker

Type in the job title and media outlet into Twitter or LinkedIn to find your exact contact name. This is the person who you need to pitch your idea to so you know it gets seen by the right eyes. Try writing ‘Editor’ or ‘Fashion Editor’ and then the magazine name. Boom.

3. Use direct contact details

Rather than email generic news@ or admin@ email addresses it’s best to find the exact contact details of the person you need to see your story. Your first point of call will be the media outlets website ‘contact us’ page as they may have a staff list and how to get in touch with everyone. Sometimes journalists may add their email addresses to their social media profiles too.

4. Pitch a story idea not a topic

A general topic is much too vague for the media to decide if they want you or not. If you want to write an article for a magazine, pitch an actual article title. Sharing your work history doesn’t help the magazine know where to put you or know what you could write about.

5. Check the media pack

Be strategic with your time and spend time pitching yourself to media outlets with an audience. Magazines and other media often have a ‘media pack’, ‘media kit’ or the like, featured on their website. This is created for advertisers to see who and how big their reach is so will give you a great idea if they are the right place to feature your company in.

6. Be wary of advertorials

Advertorials are paid-for media. They are often something smaller businesses or those new to PR get collared into because they don’t realise how else to appear in the media. If you know your ideal client is absolutely going to see you and you will leverage the opportunity to the max then it may be worth it. Chances are there are other ways to gain exposure.

7. Find your PR Sweet Spot

Once you have defined what media your ideal client is consuming, now think about which PR activities you want to try and where the sweet spot between them lies. If you are a great writer and know your dream client reads certain magazines, then you know it is worth focusing on that as a strategy.

8. Be media-ready

Once you start putting yourself out there people will Google you or land on your social media profiles or website. Make sure everything is up-to-date, page 1 of Google reflects your current business, and that you are ready to be found.

9. Have an opinion

If you agree with all your industry says or do everything perfectly it doesn’t make a great story. If you have an opinion, voice it. Just keep your published opinions on brand and in line with your business values. People love to see a negative turned into something amazing so if you overcame a failure that’s something your audience can (and will) resonate with.

10. A rough game plan (however simple!)

Having a communications plan helps keep you and your team on track with your marketing, channels you are engaging on and the messaging you share. You’ll be able to plan for publicity and content for your business events, awareness days etc. This can be as simple or as in-depth as you need depending on how deep you’re diving in but having something to keep track of your ideas, task list and deadlines will definitely be a good start.

How to be invited on TV as an industry expert

You’ve no doubt watched the news and seen the ‘experts’ they bring on to interview them. They could be asked simply their opinion on a story, or about their direct involvement, or just sharing their own news. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that a TV interview will raise your profile and leveraging it well can lead to incredible results.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to work with hundreds of companies looking to raise their profile. In all honesty, TV is the least requested PR activity. That is often because the person does not feel comfortable in front of the camera, but more often than not it’s because TV is viewed as unattainable. 

Wouldn’t it be AMAZING if you could be that go-to expert that the media called next time they needed someone to talk on your Zone of Genius topics.

You may also like to read: ‘How to be quoted in the media as an expert’.

Here’s how you can make that happen…

What’s the point?

There are a few things to consider before you start putting yourself forward for media opportunities, certainly TV interviews. There are no right or wrong answers here at all. It’s just handy to keep this in mind as it may decide who you decide to contact.

  • Why do I want to be on TV? 
  • What can I talk about? What do I have to give to the conversation?
  • What’s the objective? Am I boosting my credibility or just fancy a day out at the studio? 
  • Who is my ideal client (or target audience)? Are they watching this show or is it just to add the media logo to my ‘as seen in’ image?

Who to contact?

The most effective way to use your time, and this goes for all PR activities, is to find the decision-maker. 

Social media is your best friend here!

Open up Twitter and LinkedIn and search for a job role and media outlet name. The job titles you want to look out for with landing a TV interview is Producer or Senior Producer. You may even find the contact name of the right person on their own website too or in the TV show credits.

Kerri L Watt | Rising Tide Media

What could you appear on TV for?

You may already know which shows you would love a TV interview with. If not, you can scour the media for news stories that are being written about and see what you could have to bring to the conversation. Maybe you have a different opinion, would have handled something in another way, or have a newsworthy story or awareness campaign to share.

Set up one or several Google Alerts for keywords within your topics of expertise. When the media publishes something on that topic you will then be emailed and receive the piece straight into your inbox. 

This is great for seeing what the media (and your industry) are talking about and keeping up-to-date with everything.

You can even read the media piece and reach out to the writer introducing yourself for any followup pieces they may be writing. Be brief though, this is just to get on their radar.

Whatever you want to share on TV, whether it’s a personal story or your business expertise, it has to match the ethos and audience of the show. In short, you have to be relevant.

By proactively putting yourself forward to a local newspaper for a local story, it is likely they will be keen to cover it (or already writing something) as it is relevant to them and their readership.

What if no one replies to your emails?

Should you start pitching yourself for a TV interview and the media have yet to call you, I see two options ahead of you.

  1. Feel sorry for yourself and give up because it’ll never work OR
  2. Become your own newsroom

I say choose option 2! 

Start creating your own content and showcasing your expertise through blog posts, sharing case studies, your own journey, screenshots of testimonials, your signature top tips. 

When a news story related to your industry or your clients breaks, create content (ideally include video!) that showcases to your audience that you are an authority in your field and have an opinion on this.

Your website and social media platforms are the places to get your voice seen and heard. And you too can become your own newsroom. 

Lights, camera, LEVERAGE!

Being on TV is absolutely an option for you. If it’s what you want then I say go for it. Just one TV interview can immensely boost your credibility. Not just at that moment, but it also helps to future-proof your brand.


Well, your ideal clients and business associates may see you live on TV. That’s always awesome. The feeling of seeing screenshots afterward and social media shout outs is electric.

You HAVE to keep the momentum going. Media coverage is great, of course, but the magic truly happens when you leverage it.

Here are my favourite ways that I would leverage a TV interview…

  • Take photos of the green room, studio, your train journey, choosing your outfit – anything to document your day and create anticipation of the main event.
  • Have a friend take screenshots while you’re live and send them to you so you can share in social media posts and stories IMMEDIATELY after you finish.
  • Add the video to a showreel (if you have one)
  • Add the TV show logo to your ‘As seen in’ image.
  • Pop your ‘As seen in’ image on your website homepage, press page, social media cover images.
  • Write a blog post about your experience including embedded social media shout outs, your own screenshots, how you enjoyed the process, and the topic itself.
  • Schedule social media posts for the next week and even further.

Should you get on their radar now… or when a story breaks?

If you wait for a crisis and breaking news story to happen before you reach out to the media then beware as they may not open their emails when knee-deep in such a crisis.

Getting on the medias radar before a story breaks is ideal. YOU are then the expert they think of when that moment happens and they need to interview or quote someone.

You can get on the decision-making Producers radar by introducing yourself via email. 

Or you can do my favourite thing and follow them on social media, share their stuff, comment now and then, so when you do pitch yourself to them they are hopefully already familiar with your name because you’ve been engaging on social media already.